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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



The growing recognition of the significance of diet in maintaining human health has generated considerable amounts of research throughout Europe. Food components have been shown to help prevent a range of diseases and to prolong active life, and the search continues to unravel the various effects of different nutrients. Much of the information uncovered by this work is hard to access, although the European Commission has actively encouraged collaboration in several programmes. The establishment of EuroFIR (the European Food Information Resource Network) will help to create a comprehensive and authoritative European databank containing information on nutrient ingredients and newly emerging bioactive compounds with putative health benefits.


EuroFIR will be the first port of call for pan-European information about the composition of food. It is needed primarily to help scientists collaborate in validating the relationships between dietary habits and chronic disease, and to exploit the findings to reduce the medical and social costs of ill health. It will also help the wider community to gain access to nutritional research results and understand their implications for public health nutrition. The database will be accessible to a wide range of stakeholders - policymakers, the food industry, health professionals and concerned consumers.

The NoE unites many national database compilers with both analytical laboratories that generate the data, and end-users of the data from universities and research institutes (including two from Israel and Turkey) specialising in nutrition from all over Europe in a major five-year project. They are joined by four SMEs with expertise in IT databases and software development, and disseminating and communicating the results and findings across Europe. More national compilers and industry SMEs are expected to join.


The food information will be structured to meet the main aims of EuroFIR. An essential step will be the standardisation of data collection methods, food composition tables and analytical techniques so that all results can be compared. This will provide an effective nutrition-monitoring system at European level, to collate information on food consumption as input for the initiative to improve the safety and quality of European food. The second main objective is to support Europe's aim to make its food and biotechnology sectors more competitive in world markets.

Analysis of the data collected will reveal areas where new research could yield most benefit. The project will propose joint research activities to meet the needs of users and stakeholders. It also focuses on key food areas, in particular: composite, processed and novel foods; traditional foods and ethnic foods (that have received little attention); and bioactive compounds with functional benefits.

Innovative software tools will be developed to handle the information, along with new facilities for electronic communication. They are being designed with the needs of end-users foremost in mind, with the work being monitored by an expert group. A public website will offer food composition information and the project partners will communicate through a private intranet.

EuroFIR will aim to spread excellence and extend the impact of the NoE beyond those actively involved in its work. It will do this through training schemes for young scientists and sharing its methods and facilities. There will be a strong dissemination element to spread awareness of the network and its information potential. Feedback will ensure that the database continues to meet the needs identified by its users, the long-term aim being that it will go on providing this service when the EuroFIR project reaches the end of its five-year term.

List of Partners

  • Institute of Food Research (UK)
  • Graz University of Technology (Austria)
  • Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Nutrienten België (Belgium)
  • Institute of Reference Materials and Measurements (Belgium)
  • National Centre of Hygiene, Medical Ecology and Nutrition (Bulgaria)
  • Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (Denmark)
  • National Public Health Institute (Finland)
  • University of Helsinki (Finland)
  • Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (France)
  • Technological Institute of Iceland (Iceland)
  • Federal Research Centre for Nutrition (Germany)
  • International Life Sciences Institute, European Branch (Belgium)
  • Verein zur Förderung Technologietransfers an der Hochschule Bremerhaven e.V (Germany)
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece)
  • Agricultural University of Athens (Greece)
  • Wageningen University (The Netherlands)
  • University of Oslo (Norway)
  • National Food and Nutrition Institute (Poland)
  • National Institute of Health (Portugal)
  • University of Vienna (Austria)
  • Centre for Superior Studies on Nutrition and Dietetics (Spain)
  • Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Granada (Spain)
  • Food Research Institute (Slovenia)
  • Swedish National Food Administration (Sweden)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden)
  • Tübitak Marmara Research Centre, Food Science and Technology Research Institute (Turkey)
  • British Nutrition Foundation (UK)
  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory European Bioinformatics Institute (UK)
  • Central Science Laboratory (UK)
  • University of Leeds (UK)
  • University of Surrey (UK)
  • University College Cork (Ireland)
  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel)
  • National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research (Italy)
  • Centro per lo Studio e la Prevenzione Oncologia (Italy)
  • Baigent (UK)
  • RIKILT - Institute of Food Safety (The Netherlands)
  • Polytec (Denmark)
  • Food Information Consultancy (UK)
Full title:
European food information resource network
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Paul Finglas, Institute of Food Research,
EC Scientific Officer:
Jürgen Lucas,
Rosanna D'Amario, rosanna.d'
EU contribution:
€ 12M
Network of Excellence

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top